Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Monday, May 30, 2011

New Splits - Common Gallinule question

Just yesterday the ABA (American Birding Association) came out with their new 'splits'.  Every so often ABA splits birds that were once considered one species and with studies they've done now believe to be 2 different species.

One that has been 'split' this time, and the only one that would effect my year list is Common Moorhen.  This bird, previously called Common Moorhen, which was considered the same species as the Moorhen in Europe is now considered a totally different species, the Common Gallinule.  I have already seen this "Common (now Gallinule, previously Moorhen)" in two different places, Florida and Ohio, both when this was still considered Common Moorhen.  Now that it has been split, if any of you followers of mine know the answer, please comment and let me know.  The question is: what does this do to my year list?  Do I simply re name it on my list even though when I saw it it was considered Moorhen not Gallinule?  Do I just keep it as Moorhen on my list, even if I see it again while it's called Gallinule because I first saw it while it was called Moorhen?  Do I keep it as Moorhen on my list for now but if I see it again then change the name on my list to Gallinule?  Do I delete it off my list for now but if I see it again, put it back on as Common Gallinule but if I don't see it again don't count it at all?  Do I keep it as Moorhen now and if I see it again count it as Gallinule as well so then I'm counting it twice but one time with the name C. Moorhen and onetime with the name C. Gallinule?  Do I do something I haven't thought of?

To read more about the splits, go to this link:

Thanks in advance for help with what do with my list,



  1. Hi there! I'm also a young birder (16), from New Jersey. It's great to follow your big year, it sounds like tons of fun! As far as I know, the AOU has not finalized the splits yet, but that doesn't mean you can't update your list. I believe that the Common Moorhen on your list should become Common Gallinule. There's no need to wait until you see another one--consider it as if you were always seeing Common Gallinules, not Moorhens.

  2. Hello Natanel

    That's great that you're also into birding. I love seeing other young birders out there. Do you bird the legendary Cape May a lot? I've always wanted to go there! Thanks for following my blog, it it is lots of fun. What is the AOU? I've heard of it but I thought that only ABA took a role on people's year/life, etc. lists. Thanks so much for the advice on the moorhens vs. gallinules. I think that's good and sounds right to me. Thanks so much!

    Gabriel, aka KestrelSwan

  3. oops, sorry, I spelled your name wrong Netanel!

  4. Sure! No problem. You're right that the AOU (American Ornithologists' Union) is not as important to birders as it is to professional scientists, but I think the ABA bases their decisions about species splits, clumps etc on the AOU's decisions. As you said, birders usually rely on the ABA for news about their checklists.
    Unfortunately, I live at the very northern end of New Jersey, so I haven't been to Cape May yet. Maybe we'll see each other there soon! I'm thrilled to meet other young birders. Good birding and keep up the good work!